The attorney for three men accused of raping a University of New Mexico student three years ago released tapes of a UNM detective’s discussion with other officers about the case after, it appears, the detective believed he had turned off his recorder.
Charges were dropped against the three men, two of whom were UNM football players at the time of the alleged assault, and they are suing UNM, claiming it mishandled the investigation.
On the recording, investigator Guadalupe Guevara speaks lewdly about collecting evidence from one of the accused, discusses how to handle the case and boasts about its high-profile nature.
Attorney George Bleus, who is representing the three, made the recording public Thursday.
University spokeswoman Dianne Anderson said Friday the officers were verbally warned for unprofessional conduct related to some of the comments and language in the recording.
The recording was made in 2014 after the officers took DNA from one of the then-suspects, who was there with his attorney, Paul Kennedy. It appears the recorder continued to tape after Kennedy and his client left.
“This is going to be – this is going to be the biggest case I’ve ever done,” Guevara said. “I’ve had some big cases. This is going to rival it. This is going to be my Everest and my last.”
In 2013, then-UNM student Courtney Spencer reported to UNMPD that three men gang-raped her in a car.
Later, campus police arrested Gongbay Crusoe and SaQwan Edwards – then-Lobo football players – and Ryan Ruff in connection with the rape. Spencer went public with the case and identified herself.
District Attorney Kari Brandenburg dismissed the charges in August 2014, citing a lack of evidence.
Anderson said UNM plans to defend itself from Bleus’ lawsuit.
“We stand by our UNM Police Department and its investigation,” Anderson said in a statement. “The disciplinary action taken against the two officers is separate and unrelated to the lawsuit.”
Bleus, who is suing UNM on behalf of the three men previously accused, argued this week that the recording shows the detective wanted a big case that would put him in the limelight. And Bleus said his clients have been carrying the stigma of having been accused of rape for years.
“They’re absolutely two different sides to this coin,” Bleus said. “They (the public) saw one side, and they rushed to judgment despite the fact that there has been some notation that these guys have been cleared.”
Bleus also questioned why investigators pursued charges against all three men, since part of the recording suggested they only had interest in Crusoe.
“It’s all Crusoe, it’s none of these other guys, you know. But if we can put them all together, especially Crusoe – Crusoe’s got several charges over his head. That guy’s going to sing like a bird,” Guevara said, according to a transcript of the recording.
Earlier in the recording, two unidentified UNM police officers can be heard talking about the three men and their attorney, Kennedy.
“You guys are just trying to railroad these guys, man,” one can be heard saying.
“Yeah, well we made him get Paul Kennedy, right?” the other says. “That’s how we do it ’round here.”
Spencer, after charges were dropped, filed a Title IX complaint in February of last year against the university for improperly handing the investigation and being more interested in protecting football players than responding to her claims.
And earlier this year, Bleus filed a civil suit against UNM and its police department on behalf of the three men who were accused because of a “botched” investigation.
Attorney Brad Hall, who is representing Spencer, said Friday he had not heard of Bleus’ lawsuit because he was out of town.
But he said the notion of UNMPD “pursuing a case knowing the suspects were innocent is completely absurd.”
” I don’t see anything in the reported chit chat between police officers that took place at some point in their ongoing investigation which even remotely suggests anything like what is being suggested,” he said in an email to the Journal. “It’s hardly a bombshell.”